An interview with Justin Geissler, Project Manager at HomeWrights Custom Homes
Justin: An ERV is an Energy Recovery Ventilator.
Steve: What does that mean?
Justin: The basic principle is that we all need air to breathe and we need the air in our house to be fresh air! And since we’re building really tight energy-efficient homes these days we need to introduce fresh air through mechanical ventilation. What that means is that in the olden days we would exhaust the air from our bathrooms using a simple fan. You might also have a hood vent to exhaust your cooking fumes and carbon monoxide if you’re cooking with gas.
Since new custom homes are built to higher energy efficiency requirements, when you build a really tight house it doesn’t make sense to put a fan in the ceiling because you’re just introducing a giant hole in your house. But there are other ways to introduce fresh air into your house without compromising energy efficiency.
Steve: So that’s how an ERV works. It works by exchanging stale, polluted indoor air with fresh, clean outdoor air throughout your entire home – without wasting energy.
Justin: Correct. AND, it also filters and cleans up the air in the process. Now there are a couple of different ways to do this. You can install an Energy Recovery Ventilator at a central location in the home, so that it’s basically bringing in fresh air to common areas and exhausting stale air.
The incoming air is running across a heat exchanger and passing adjacent to the stale exhaust air that is on its way out. This way you’re not blowing your wonderfully conditioned air in the summer or your heated air out in the winter.
Steve: So with the ERV the basic principle is that it’s going to take whatever energy out of the air before it comes in or goes out so nothing is wasted. It saves the cool in the summer and the heat in the winter. Is this only installed in new construction. Can this be retrofit? Can I put it into an older home?
Justin: Yes, you can certainly put it into an older home but with an older home they’re not built as airtight.
They breathe on their own and so you can sit in that house for months at a time without opening a window or a door and you’re not going to suffocate whereas in a new home if you don’t open a window or a door it’s going to be very stuffy and you’ll know it.
See one of Justin’s projects in the video below…
Steve: So generally if you’re opening and closing a window or door periodically, then you’re introducing enough fresh air into the house to do that. But an ERV system is going to provide both energy efficiency and more comfortable air to breathe regardless of opening doors and windows.
The benefits of installing an ERV in your home include:
- Filtering and removing certain allergens, and other toxins from indoor spaces
- Help in removing VOCS (Volatile Organic Compounds) such as: paints, paint strippers, wood preservatives, moth repellents, air fresheners, aerosol sprays, cleansers/disinfectants, stored fuels, automotive products, hobby supplies, dry-cleaned clothing
- Improving respiration for asthma sufferers
- Reduced cooking, bathroom, and pet odors
- Possibly mitigating mold and mildew
- Improved energy efficiency of the home
- Less dusting of your home due to reduced pollen, pet dander, and other materials building up
- More consistent temperatures from one room to the next more consistent
- Improved sleep with to clean, fresh, cycled air
- Extending the life of HVAC systems
- Enjoying that feeling of fresh air!
Justin: New custom homes being built in the Denver area typically have an Energy Recovery Ventilation system. That’s become more of a standard building practice in recent years.
Steve: How much money is this going to save me on energy or how long do I need to recoup the investment of that ERV in Energy savings? Are there any numbers on that?
Justin: So an Energy Recovery Ventilator could probably be installed for around 2,500 bucks. And as far as recuperating those funds, it’s hard to say. I mean this is this is more of a comfort item to make sure that you’ve got that fresh air to breathe in your house.
Steve: Okay, so there’s some savings but it is more of a comfort factor and for $2,500 that’s a pretty small percentage of that to the cost of a new home.
Justin: That’s pretty minimal. There are a few ways to install it. The first and simple way is to install a single point ERV. You install it near an attic so that you have access to your fresh air and it’s going to bring in bring in fresh air and exhaust stale air at that a single point centrally located in the house.
You can also connect an ERV to the existing ductwork for your furnace or AC, by connecting it to the return air part of the system.
We can also install ERVs as separate ducted ventilation systems. That means that my ERV unit lives in the mechanical room and it’s ducted to the outside for fresh air intake and stale air exhaust. There is also ductwork to distribute fresh air strategically throughout the house, and exhaust locations in bathrooms, laundry and other potentially stuffy places. It needs to be a balanced system and an HVAC professional will usually design and test this type of installation.
Steve: Great! I’m not wasting energy and I have fresh air to breathe. Any other benefits to this system?
Justin: Health. I mean if you’re sensitive to allergens and pollens and so forth, you know, instead of opening up your windows and doors you’re still able to get fresh air that’s passed through a high quality filter. And so the indoor air quality is much better than in a than in a traditionally ventilated home.
Steve: And with all the forest fire smoke in the air lately, an ERV would certainly make breathing fresh air a lot easier!
Justin: An Energy Recovery Ventilator system is really a great investment for comfort, energy efficiency, and of course, our health. So if anyone has any questions on ERVs, we’re just a phone call away!
Steve: Thank you Justin!
The video below features a working mother, dentist three days a week and Owner-Builder two days a week. Learn how she intends to save $150,000 or more by acting as her own general contractor!
Why HomeWrights Custom Homes?
Every custom home is unique and HomeWright’s has a team of professional builders to partner with you as you build wealth for your future by acting as your own custom home builder.
Whether you’re taking advantage of our Owner-Builder program or our Turnkey approach to building your custom home, recognizing the importance of setting goals and having clear intentions will make that journey towards your dream home a lot smoother!